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Profile for Che Grimsdale:
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View of my head...from the side. I think I look better from the front.

Hobbies include lifting one cheek and farting.

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» Will you go out with me?

Put the kettle on, make a cuppa, sit back and read the story of Che & Xena
One of the first reasons why I wanted to stay with Xena for the rest of my life was because of where we met.

Seriously. I thought to myself: 'Wouldn't it be great, if in years to come, when people asked you where you met, you could say: "We met in a Family Planning Clinic....in Soho"'. If you're reading this, and you know me, now you'll know who Che Grimsdale really is, because I guess there aren't many couples who can say that.

Back in the summer of 1985 I was working for a temp agency in London called Catch 22. I think the catch went something like: you want work, we will send you on shit assignments, if you complain, we won't send you on any more, if you don't complain, we will.' That's some catch that Catch 22.

I did some interesting work with Catch 22. One of my favourites was the Hilti drills warehouse near Wormwood Scrubs where I worked with a guy who’d been a helicopter engineer in the Falklands amongst others. We used to have pallet hand-cart races around the warehouse. Another time I was commissionaire for an office block next door to the South African embassy just off Trafalgar Square, I was post-room boy at Readers Digest in one of the posh London squares and for Olivetti in Clapham or somewhere and for a while I was a driver's mate for the Bloomsbury Health Authority. The guy I worked with was Portugese - can't remember his name - and our job was picking up the laundry from the various hospitals and clinics in the area and taking them back to the big laundry in one of the large hospitals, possibly the Middlesex.

It meant early starts but our first stop would always be for a coffee at one of the little Italian cafes somewhere in the West End that was open early for cabbies etc. I vividly remember one morning...we'd just got our coffees, which were in polystyrene cups with those annoyingly tight-fitting lids; I was sat on the passenger side of the van while Luis (now I come to think about it, I’m fairly sure that was his name) drove. As all the ancillary workers at that time smoked - possibly still do, I wouldn't know - it was common practice to smoke in the van between pick-ups. I always used to smoke roll-ups; I've written before about the ritual and paraphernalia of the rolly that I enjoyed almost as much as the actual smoking. I had a cheap refillable lighter in those days in the Catalan colours, a souvenir of my work-camp experience in the Pyrenees, and a tobacco tin with Fat Freddy and his cat painted on the lid. Anyway, I balanced the tin on top of my coffee cup lid, which was held between my legs so that I didn't drop it, but it left my fingers free to roll the fag. When suddenly, Luis hit the brakes, I was thrown forwards, my legs came together, the lid popped off the coffee, my tobacco tin fell onto the floor of the van and scalding hot coffee poured onto my crutch and thighs. Fuck me that hurt, I mean REALLY hurt. Luis was not very sympathetic, we carried on and for most of the morning my scalded thighs were made worse by chafing of damp jeans. Not a good day.

My stoicism was rewarded though, as very soon after that incident, I was asked to work for three days at the Margaret Pyke Family Planning Clinic, which had been one of our pick-ups on the van. It was located underneath the Hospital for Women and was just off Soho Square. The most popular gynaecologist there was the guy who’s alter ego was Hank Wangford - Country ‘n’ Western star. It was June, I was 21 years old, very nearly 22 and my life was soon to be turned upside down.

I was asked to do some filing. There were wire baskets full of files from patients that needed to be re-filed. Oh well, beats humping bags of hospital laundry into the back of a van. Needless to say, the place was full of women - and I'm sure you know the kind: the kind that like working in a Family Planning Clinic. Their idea of a joke was to 'tease' any blokes that came in for free johnnies: "OK son, drop your trousers and we'll measure you up straight away" was their idea of putting a lad at his ease. You'd think they didn't want men to take any responsibility for birth control at all.

Anyway, I was diligently filing away when suddenly all noise faded into the background, the light in the clinic seemed to gain in intensity, time slowed down...if I'd looked up to the top of the filing cabinets, no doubt I'd have spotted Cupid chuckling away merrily to himself safe in the knowledge that another of his arrows had sped home speedily and true.

Just to back up a tiny bit here, if you've been following my posts over the years, you'll know that I’d had a few dalliances with a variety of foreign girls during my year of travels but the first true love of my life had faded away and none of the others were the ‘real thing’. I kept locking gazes with lovelies on the Tube and my pheromone detection and transmitting equipment seemed to be in constant overdrive. What I'm saying is that I was a total liability to myself and any female person to come within my soft, steely gaze.

Xena didn't stand a chance.

She was the permanent filing clerk and I, as the temp, was her helper. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I ask you: What chance did either of us stand? We were both doing the filing, the filing stacks were those movable filing stacks that we all know and loathe...except I didn't loathe them at all. It meant that all day long we were squeezing past each other, smiling, brushing up, breathing in…

Xena was petite, 5' 1" I was to find out, which makes my 5' 7" look (reasonably) masterful. She had longer than shoulder length wavy dark hair, greeny-brown eyes, a Mediterranean look and complexion but a general purpose London accent. She had the Mediterranean figure to go with the looks, and being short, she often had to use the little kick stool and stretch on tip-toes to put files away on the top rows. Boy oh boy...

So, it was a Monday, it was June, London was warm, Soho Square was full of people eating their lunches ("I believe that it's called Al Fresco" don't lie, you know, it's called Al Fresco because you're a middle-class Southern arse) and sunbathing in that typically English way, i.e. shirt off for men, skirt rolled up to mid-thigh if you're a woman.

That summer, I was working my way steadily through Joyce's 'Ulysses' - I was so young and full of myself that I didn't care or realise how much of a tosser this made me look. I was probably wearing a Glastonbury tee-shirt proclaiming the top bands to be something like Peter Gabriel and the Pogues.

Anyway, we settled down to a routine, Xena and I: first we'd do the filing, then we would sit in the little reception area and pack pills. I think Microgynon (sp?) was the most popular in those days. They would come in their blister packs in a box, and there would be little cardboard sleeves separate. We'd sit companionably side by side packing them and chatting.

Here's a tip for finding a life-mate, if you can meet in an environment where sex is the business of the day - though not in a bad way - then the ice isn't just broken, it's neatly carved into interesting little shapes, floating and clinking merrily in a double strength Gin & Tonic.

I was making a good impression on this impressionable though independent girl, I could tell. I'd been regaling her with my 'travels with a backpack' stories and she'd been telling me a little about her family. This is one of the fine things about London and about multi-culturalism. I don't want to get onto a soap box or anything, but Xena's parents both moved to London as economic migrants, her mother was a nurse from Ireland and her father was from Turkish Cyprus. For myself, my great-grandparents had escaped the antisemitic pogroms in Russia and Lithuania at the end of the 19th Century. Between us we carried genes from a pretty damn wide gene pool and we could have - if we had so wished - probably started a third world war. As it happened, that was the furthest thing from our minds.

On the Tuesday, I told her that I was a poet. Now, this was true in the very widest sense of the word: occasionally, I set words down on paper which conformed to rhyming or metering not usually found in prose. Bad poetry has two major sources: greetings cards and love-sick young men. Xena asked me for a poem and so, during lunchtime on the second day I had known her, I started penning a poem. It was...well now, how can I put it? Catchy? Not sure. It was longer than I'd planned, 7 little four-line verses, rhyming, using Xena's name [her real name that is] as the key rhyme running through the epic. The final verse was (if I can remember it correctly):

"So don't forget my name now,
And smile your whole life through,
And when I'm rich and famous,
I'll come back and marry you!"

Well. Surprising? It kind of surprised me too. I gave it to her as we parted at Oxford Street tube station.

The next day I found out would be my last on this assignment, so with mixed emotions we went through the routine of the day and this time, as we parted, she passed me a piece of paper. With tears welling in my eyes I fought my way down to the Northern Line, North-bound platform, dashed onto a train, found a seat (a miracle in itself) and unfolded the piece of paper to read (actual name changed to protect the oh-so innocent):

"To Che Grimsdale words from the boss,
To send you on your way,
A nicer lad I've never had,
To keep the files at bay,
Oh temps they come and temps they go,
And some I don't like much,
But really I would be quite pleased,
If we could keep in touch.
Boom boom"

I'm not sure how many times I read that during the 30 minute or so journey home as my memory is all a buzzing blur from that time. But if I could bottle that feeling...

God knows where I was sent the next day or so, but the following week, I was asked to go back to the clinic. Oh joy. I didn't have Xena's address or phone number - don't forget, this is 1985 and mobile phones didn't exist. I knew she lived in a bedsit somewhere in Cricklewood but that was all. Now I'd have the chance to ask her out properly...

Oh black day.

I turned up for work like an eager young puppy to be told that Xena had left.

Oh woe is me!

That would have been the thought running through my mind at the moment I discovered that Xena had left.

It would have, but the horrendous cocktail of hormones coursing through my young body had, semi-mercifully, given me a chemical lobotomy. Although it was London in late June and the sun was, apparently beating down relentlessly through the smog, everything in front of my eyes had a grey cast and I was feeling chilly.

I set to the task of filing away the medical records with about as much enthusiasm as I might have had for sorting out a rugby teams dirty kit before hand-washing and ironing it all. Last week, it had seemed as if I could have filed happily for the rest of my life, now, I couldn't even raise a smile when I came across the file for Violet Gumbs. The day dragged on interminably; lunch came and went - I found a pub somewhere off Soho Square and had a pint or two while re-reading the same paragraph of Ulysses about 30 times with as little understanding the 30th time as the first.

In the afternoon, the filing finished for now, I went upstairs to the office where Antonia worked. I'd spent a day a couple of months before helping her out in the office on a previous Catch 22 assignment. She was a pretty, cheerful girl; hair in a checker-board of tight, close plaits, glasses perched on the end of her nose and deep magenta lipstick contrasting with her almost velvet-black complexion. She had liked Xena too, and knew from the clinic gossip mill what the situation was. There was a spare chair in the office and I slumped there while Antonia made me a cup of tea and tried to cheer me up.

"The worst thing is," I told her, "is that I haven't got her phone number or address." At which, she gave me a serious look over her glasses before turning away to a filing cabinet, pulling out a file and taking it to her desk. She opened it up, copied something out, put the file away and came over to me.

"Look, if you ever tell where you got this, I'll be in real trouble, OK?" and she passed me a piece of paper with an address on it. "I haven't got a phone number, just her address."

I grasped her hands and kissed her on the cheek, "Don't worry, I won't tell, and...thanks. Really - thanks." Her smile must have at least part-way reflected my own as light began to seep back into my life.

Right. What to do? What to do?

I know: it's my birthday coming up, only a few more days left of being 21 - my folks are going to be away, and I've a party planned, just a few friends. I'll invite her along. So I posted her an invitation and got a card back saying she was sorry but she couldn’t make it - she could see me the following weekend and would phone me on the Saturday. That was the day (July 7th 1985) that Boris Becker became the youngest ever (and first unseeded player) to win the Wimbledon Men's title. I can remember watching the match, I remember being in a pit of misery as I waited for the phone to ring and I can remember that it was the best match of tennis I have ever watched. What I am saying is that one part of my brain was enjoying the match at some level, but my body was miserable, with that 'pit of the stomach' misery that is the flip-side of being in love.

Eventually she rang and we arranged to meet up. I believe Beethoven wrote his 9th Symphony chorus just for me on the day. We set a time and a place: Highgate Tube station 7.30pm Friday. I was there at about quarter past three - just to be on the safe side. Not really, in fact, at 3.15, I was probably in the shower, scouring, rinsing, lathering, rinsing, re-lathering (just to be on the safe side), re-rinsing, towelling down, brushing teeth, gargling, shaving, checking the result in the mirror, spraying, combing, talc-ing, brushing down, cooling off, choosing clothes (clean clothes!), dressing, preening, combing hair again, pacing, going out for some fresh air, smoking, coming in, cleaning teeth again, changing tee-shirt...

At 7.30 I was waiting at the top of the escalator at Highgate Tube (one of the longest) and then she appeared.

There are times when the anticipation is better than the event, when ‘tis truly better to travel in hope than to arrive. This was NOT one of those times. Oh no, this time, anticipation was a drink at the bar and some nibbles compared to the six course, haut cuisine, silver-service banquet that was the event.

I was the host. I didn't live in Highgate, but the Flask, on top of Highgate Hill was one of our regular drinking holes during the 6th Form and remained a firm favourite - especially in summer as there were plenty of tables outside. Xena was wonderful, not what she said or did, but just being there...

She wore tight pale pink trousers and flat red pumps. She was wearing a loose white shirt over a simple tee-shirt and a little jacket. She had a style all her own. Goodness knows what we talked about, but the conversation never dried up. We walked around Highgate Village a bit, stopping to sit on a bench in Pond Square while the sun when down. Then we wandered back to the Flask.

She drank vodka and orange and swirled the ice around, sucking the orange slice and laughing. I drank pints of cloudy scrumpy - the speciality of the house, but not to get drunk, or rather, I wouldn't have been able to tell if I was drunk or not.

After closing time we went back to the Tube. We'd been holding hands as we walked along but we stopped just outside the entrance and she turned towards me and held me round the waist, looking up expectantly into my eyes, smiling and we kissed. I don't know how long for, but we were brought out of our reverie by a car going past which honked its horn as some lads 'wa-haay-ed' out of the windows. It was that sort of a kiss: it was complete in itself and timeless but held promise, like a taste of new red wine from the finest vintage, a promise of future wines, great wines yet to mature in the barrel and later in the bottle - picking up flavours and deepness, rounding out, filling up, gaining depth, maturity, deepness of colour, fine bouquet; changing each year, always a joy, always a surprise, always a return to something familiar, overlaid with new subtlety, new enjoyment.

I knew that this was special. That this was 'it'. Oh yes, no mistake, and I wouldn't lose her a second time, oh no. No way Jose, this time, it was for keeps.
(Fri 29th Aug 2008, 9:53, More)

» Stalked

Hey, it actually fits! Here's one I prepared earlier.
This post is not suitable for children or the short of attention span. It contains scenes of a sexually raunchy nature, literary and cultural allusions, one mild drug reference, foreign words and is free from all apologies for length.

It may, however, contain nuts.

* * * * *

“On va au cinoche ce soir?” someone asked. We were sitting around in Nass’s room, fat-chewing and breeze-shooting in a Banlieu-stylee.

Nass was my best friend at that time; we’d met the previous summer in Nice, travelled back up North to Paris together, where I’d stayed a week or so at her place in Colombes, then back to London where she stayed with me for a week or so, before we went off grape picking together in the Langeudoc region. When we’d met first in July, I spoke passable French, could ‘get by’ and even follow part of a conversation between French people, but as Nass didn’t speak a word of English and liked to talk, by the time we separated after the grape picking in late September, I was not only fluent, but had picked up a fair amount of Parisian argot – that’s slang to you lot – as well as a distinct Parisian accent. I was a born again Francophile, listening to Renaud, reading Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir in the original…I was starting to think things to myself and even dream in French.

But this was the following spring, and I’d taken a long weekend break from temping in London and was staying with Nass. She was great; about 4’ 11” high, stylish in an ethnic, artless shabby-chic kind of way, Algerian parents, John Lennon glasses, teeth like a young Shane MacGowan but a smile like sunshine breaking through clouds. She was talkative and opinionated and fun and could become serious but was hardly ever moody. She was full of life and game for a laugh and she was my copine, my frangine. Of all my ‘friends of the opposite sex’, she was the bestest friend and as neither of us remotely fancied the other, we could safely share a tent without the least problem. I loved her like a sister and would have defended her to the death.

Anyway, back to the day in question. “Alors, qu’est-ce q’on fait ce soir?” There was a bunch of us sat around, and there’s no way I can remember them all but Nass’s best friend Titine (that’s Christine) was there and Gilles, who was a conscientious objector. Not sure exactly how conscientious he was exactly, bearing in mind his fondness all things cannabis related, but he was definitely an objector: he had opted for the ambulance service rather than going into the army for his national service. I seem to remember that this was no soft option – may have meant serving twice as long or something – but it did mean he didn’t have to cut his hair, which seemed important – though choosing not to wash it either was less understandable.

Nass was living in a ‘foyer’, and by this I don’t mean she crashed out where the doorman and the lifts were. It was a kind of hostel; the best way to describe it would be to say that it was a hall of residence for young people that weren’t students. Brilliant idea, don’t know why we don’t do it here. Post-18, can’t/don’t want to live with your folks, can’t afford your own flat, want the company of like-situated people, want a canteen and laundry on hand, don’t need much personal space, willing to share a bathroom with a few others? All this and the support of tres sympa social worker type wardens on hand to help you out with personal problems looking for work, claiming benefits, etc. etc. This is why I can’t remember who else was there, people came and went all the time.

So, the cinoche – what’s on? When I heard that ‘Brazil’ was playing, I convinced the gang to go see it. Now, being good b3tans, I’m sure you’re all familiar with it, but this was Paris in the spring of 1985, and the film had only come out the year before in the UK. I remember seeing it for the first time, shortly after sitting through the much anticipated version of Orwell’s ‘1984’ with John Hurt and Richard Burton and thinking how very much better ‘Brazil’ was at portraying an alternative present dystopia. Anyway, I talked them into it and we trooped off into the heart of Paris on the French version of Network SouthEast, Colombes being outside the reach of the Metro. There must have been between half a dozen and a dozen of us I suppose, all talking 19 to the dozen as young people everywhere tend to do.

We were a bit early for the film so went to a café for beer or coffee or whatever and a cigarette of course – Paris, café, coffee, ciggie – I was smoking Gaulois Blonde probably, a very fair substitute for Camels at a quarter of the price and in a nice blue packet. We chatted away about this and that; I don’t know about Ireland, not having been there, but I always found in France that the craic was good.

On to the film. We shambled in with much noise, laughter, pushing and shoving and I settled down for a couple of hours of English language (with French sub-titles). I don’t know about you at the cinema, but I like to have my elbows on the arms of the seat and will usually fight for my rights. This time, although I’d bagged them as soon as I sat down, the girl sat on my left insisted on insinuating her elbow onto the same arm-rest, bad form or what? It was very uncomfortable so I gave way gracefully and settled down to watch the film and was soon lost in Gilliam’s wonderful creation. The only annoyance being constant shifting from the girl in the next seat who couldn’t seem to get comfortable.

Film over, we all trooped off back to the train and headed for home. When we sat down I found myself opposite, and thereby almost knee to knee with the annoying girl from the cinema, although, in the light, I realised that woman was a better description. She started chatting to me about this and that, and she managed to keep my attention despite the fact that she was wearing a vest t-shirt under her open jacket which gave me a pretty good idea of the hilly landscape which lay beneath, especially as there was a goodly amount of cleavage on show. Thinking back, I’m pretty certain she was leaning forward and may have had her arms closer together than normal too. In fact, although I can remember the view of her chest, I can’t actually remember any of the conversation…funny that.

It transpired that Therese – for that’s what I’ll call her – was actually the warden for the hostel, or one of the team anyway, and when we got back, we all went to her room. This was a bit bigger than the others and it also had its own bathroom en suite. We were squashed in next to each other, along with about three other people on a low futon-type sofa. I was plied with vin rouge and the next thing I remember is Therese leaning in very close to me and asking huskily, right in my ear, if I wanted to take a shower.

Now, you lot know me – I’m no genius, but I’m no thickie either, but for some reason, I was being very slow on the uptake that day. I’ve had a few years to think about this and can only put it down to the fact that at that time, I would have considered anyone over the age of, say, 25 as ‘above the radar’ if you know what I mean. Now you can argue about age difference all you like and what’s old and what’s young, but at that time I was 21 and Therese was 30. By my reckoning that made her 50% older than me, or to put it another way, an ‘older woman’. Anyway, eventually, I cottoned on; I didn’t take a shower but I did consent to a one-to-one practical tutorial in French Kissing – Advanced Level. I believe that around that time, the room emptied as our guests filed off to someone else’s room.

As soon as the door closed behind them, Therese got me to help her turn the sofa into a bed and then pulled me down onto it. I managed to get my DMs off in the time it took her to completely disrobe and then she began helping me off with my clothes while kissing me in some pretty intimate places. Her breasts were revealed to be as fulsome and lovely as I had imagined, her figure was trim, her ardour was high, we became acquainted. Pretty soon, she assumed what I was to learn was her favourite position: lying on her back with her knees spread wide, but with her feet somehow tucked under her bum, thereby raising her hips up a little, presenting Little Che – who, belying his moniker, was vastly engorged, rigid as a pool cue and, if I’m not much mistaken, giving off a low hum as he twitched playfully in time to my racing pulse – a clear target to aim at. Still, I hesitated.

“Baise-moi” she breathed, as her fingers reached down to part her lips for me, looking for all the world like an Egon Schiele painting come to life. I didn’t need asking twice so, after positioning Little Che for the ‘off’, I propped myself up on fully extended arms, the better to enjoy the view, then set the Little fella to work, teasingly slowly at first, not too deep, feeling his way, savouring every sensation, easing him into the warm, wetness, deeper with each forward movement, as her intoxicating scent arose, mixing with my own sweatiness. Once I’d ‘pulled up to the bumper’, I slowly increased the speed, still teasing, but when her encouragement became urging I fell to with a will, and we began the journey towards that distant goal in earnest. My arms began to ache so I lowered myself onto my elbows for a second wind, pumping and then thrashing, as if riding towards the finish line, five furlongs out…and as the crowd roared us home, I passed the post just ahead of her then slowed to a canter, a walk and finally stopped, smiled down at her smile, kissed her gently, withdrew, kissing her breasts before rolling off, sweating, dripping and spent.

We sat up with a sheet pulled up to cover our cooling bodies and enjoyed a post-coital smoke and a glass of wine. The second time was as good as the first. Little Che and the bollock brothers rose manfully to the occasion and, if it was a 2.5 mile-er rather than a straight mile sprint, it was a close enough finish to please the crowd. I’d had an each-way bet on myself so was happy enough to come in second place by a length.

The next thing I knew, it was morning. I was lying curled up on my left side, with Therese curled behind me, her warm breasts pressed against my back, her right arm draped over me and her gentle fingers exploring and encouraging Little Che’s ‘salute to the sun’.

“Bonjour,” I said, turning onto my back and half sitting up against the pillows. I pulled Therese towards me for a cuddle but quick as a flash she threw her right leg over me and straddled my thighs. Then, steadying herself on my shoulders, she sat up and forwards and as smoothly as a spaceship manoeuvre, located the capsule in the mother-ship’s docking station before sinking back down and fully engaging.

This time, I let her do all the work, while I played with her marvellous tits, making her nipples stand out hard and proud, lifting them up and flicking my tongue across them, but after a while I became distracted by the action down below and gave it my full attention, even assisting a little by reaching behind her, grasping her arse and bucking up and down against her thrusts. After, I held her close while Little Che slowly softened inside her and she sighed deeply and told me that I’d really better take that shower now.

Off I sauntered to the en suite. As I turned on the light and caught sight of myself in the mirror over the sink, I gave myself a mischievous wink and a grin, before turning on the shower taps and stepping into for a good old rinse off, making sure I got all the gunk out of my nether hairy region. Poor old Little Che thought that round four was on the cards, especially as I vigorously dried the old chap, but though he swung jauntily as I made my way back into the bedroom, and I could see Therese contemplating a return match, I safely reached my black cotton briefs, pulled them on and up, tucking the lad away with mingled regret and relief. On went 501s, t-shirt, socks and DMs, I picked up my jacket and with a brief kiss, I was off with a promise to meet up in the cafeteria in 15 minutes.

I was only a tiny bit sheepish as I knocked on Nass’ door, but I needn’t have worried. As I pulled on a fresh t-shirt she explained to me what had happened the previous afternoon. Therese had asked her if the two of us were an item, when Nass said ‘no’, she’d asked if I was attached, when Nass said ‘no’, she asked if Nass would mind is she made a move on me. Nass said ‘be my guest’. She passed the word around everyone except me and we were thus shoved together at the cinema, train, sofa etc. I wasn’t sure what to think.

We went down to breakfast and when Therese came in, fresh as a lily, she monopolised me, asking what my plans for the day were. I didn’t have any, “Can you meet me at 1pm in front of the Pompidou Centre?”

“Yes,”

“I’m not on duty tonight, so I’ll have to go back home [chez moi] this evening.”

“Oh,” I said naively, “do you live with your parents?”

Her face went through several unreadable emotions and then she laughed, “No! I live with my boyfriend.”

* * * * *

We met that afternoon and Therese took me to a small hotel in the centre of Paris. As we walked along, she put her arm around my waist and I noticed how petite she was – no more than 5’ 1” and how terribly French somehow, with her bobbed hair, casually smart clothes, careful make-up, cigarette, firm round bum. At the hotel, she paid for a room and we performed the now familiar ballet, though this time with her lying across the still-made bed, her head hanging over the edge, showing off her magnificent boobs to their best advantage.

We probably went somewhere for a coffee afterwards, and she probably gazed adoringly into my eyes as I lit her cigarette with my zippo, then probably held my hands and promised to write.

I left Paris early the next day with promises to return and went back home to London and a series of undemanding, underpaid, unskilled temping jobs. I think it’s fair to say I was feeling pretty smug and I was certainly in credit at the wank bank for a change. Therese wrote; she sent me a card which said ‘Je craque sans toi’ on the front and had words of endearment inside. She also suggested a trip to Berlin in the summer.

This was looking promising. I was still getting letters from Ursula [see: ‘beautiful but bonkers’] and there was also another girl in Tubingen that I was quite keen to see again thanks to the best one-night-stand of my life the previous year. If I played my cards carefully, I could bonk my merry way across Germany in the summer.

* * * * *

Woody Allen said once: “How do you make God laugh? Answer: Tell him your plans for the future.” Little did I know that during a temp placement as a filing clerk at a family planning clinic, Cupid would be lying in wait for me, and rather than the usual cute little bow and arrow, he’d borrowed Detritus’ crossbow. I’m still – 23 years on – reeling from the blow and will possibly never recover.

* * * * *

I’d already agreed with a friend to spend another weekend in Paris – he had friends there too – so off we went, though I probably bored him to tears with talk of Xena (the future Mrs Grimsdale) on the overnight ferry journey. I’d only had three days work at the clinic and had only managed to meet up with her once since then but I was walking on air none-the-less.

Predictably, as soon as I stepped over the threshold, Therese dragged me off to an unoccupied room and proceeded to give me an appetite for breakfast. Being perceptive, she could tell that, although one of my organs was fully engaged in proceedings, my heart was clearly not in it at all. Over breakfast she got the full story from me. I told her that I couldn’t come to Berlin, that I couldn’t write to her any more, that I couldn’t see her again – and total unfeeling selfish bastard that I was, I have no idea now how she took it.

I returned home and began my serious pursuit of Xena. My supporting role in a minor French farce was over and memories of Therese faded from my mind like morning mist in the sunshine.

- FIN –

* * * * *
EPILOGUE

I know you lot like a happy ending, and may be feeling a little let down just now. Sorry, but it doesn’t always work out that way, though if anyone were to ask “So, Che, how was it for you?” I can safely reply “Great. It was really great.” I only hope that Therese’s memories of those few months are as fond as mine are; I do know that they will be very, very different.

What I can also say is that with age comes wisdom of a kind. Although I enjoyed telling that story, and I hope, you enjoyed reading it, what I now realise is that the story I really want to read is Therese’s story. As I never asked her a single question about herself, her life, her boyfriend, her family, her hopes and dreams and fears, I’ll never know if I was a revenge fuck, just one in a long series of flings, the one true love of her life, all of the above or none of the above.

If any of you talented lady posters wish to take up the challenge to tell “Therese’s Story”, then I for one would very much like to read it [are you there Chickenlady?].

…and now dear b3tans, I will roll away from this post, sweating, dripping and totally spent.
(Thu 31st Jan 2008, 15:51, More)

» Advice from Old People

I'm an old man; here's my advice
Well, a mixture of stuff I've picked up and stuff I've figured out for myself.

Learn to enjoy the good simple things in life without over-indulging - don't mix your drinks, there's no need.
Rely on yourself - you'll always be there. Try turning off your phone and computer for two whole days and see how you get on.
If you're not happy - find out why: what's making you unhappy? Change it. Job, partner, studies - there are always ways out and the simple act of doing something about it will make you happier.
Don't marry the person you want to be with - marry the one you can't be without.
When you think "I'll just have one more drink" - don't have it.
Go somewhere new, try new things, meet new people - especially while you're young.
If you love someone - tell them occasionally. If they are your parents/grandparents it is especially important.
If you're a bloke, buy flowers for your misses (or Mr) when they're not expecting it and don't get cross if they think you must have done something wrong - just tell them Che told you to do it.
If there is somthing in your life you love doing - try to find a job where they will pay you to do it.
Don't be afraid to ask for help from someone you trust; don't be afraid to give advice to someone you love.
Spend as much time as you can with your kids - blink and they're grown.
Steer clear of hard drugs.
Never show off when driving a car - don't be afraid of being called a sissy.
Men: agree with your woman and let them win arguments. If necessary - do the opposite after she's won.
Women: you'll be amazed how grateful a man can be if you put yourself out for him occasionally.
Gay men: use a condom.
Lesbians: have fun.
Singles: enjoy the peace and quiet. You'll find someone when the right person comes along (if that's what you want) - don't settle for second best, but remember: all relationships need give and take.
At work: do your best and don't stab others in the back. Bite your tongue but don't put up with shit. If you're really not happy, see above: leave.
And this above all else - when things seem really black, go for a walk in the countryside if at all possible, or better still, run or cycle. Look at the beauty of the world and remember that no matter how black things seem, there are others who would love to be in your place. And things will get better. If that doesn't help - let us know about it on the QOTW and we'll cheer you up and provide support.

Amen.

Che
(Fri 20th Jun 2008, 10:28, More)

» Public Sex

Have another oldie...

Is there anything more miserable than an 18 year old that has never been kissed? All around you, less witty, less intelligent and, if we're being honest, less attractive people, are snogging and, no doubt, in private doing even more intimate things. But not you, oh no. And then what happens? Yes you do miserably in your A Levels and fail to get that place at Liverpool Uni you had your heart set on - well, perhaps not you, but that was the situation the young Che found himself in. Not just miserable and with no idea what to do with his life, but also with a fully functioning, nay, eager and constantly throbbing member and a pair of bollocks on permanent double shifts, producing enough spermatozoa to re-populate China every 48 hours.

Miserable? The only thing keeping me going was the support of friends and the regular gaseous intake of combustible resin of the cannabis sativa plant. So, in this unstable condition of sexual readiness partially suppressed by dope, I spent a year working while my kindly but clueless parents convinced me to sign up for a degree in catering administration in Bournemouth (don't ask).

I saved up and gave myself a decent summer holiday though. I got an inter-rail card: South of France, Rome, Florence, Italian Riviera, Austria, Germany, Luxembourg and finally, Amsterdam - where I was able to renew my acquaintance with the above-mentioned herbal remedy and reconcile myself to three more weeks at home before going to college to do some mickey mouse course. It also softened the blow that, despite travelling alone, staying in Youth Hostels and meeting dozens of people of both sexes from all over, I had spectacularly failed to get any girlie action whatsoever.

Did I ask earlier whether there was anything more miserable than an 18 year old that has never been kissed? Well, by now, I'd had my 19th birthday.

Heigh ho and back to Blightly. After a feed a sleep and a bath I felt 'normal' again...so I hastily called some mates and went to the pub or maybe went to someone's place for a smoke. Funnily enough, I hate telling traveller's tales normally; you've been off having adventures, if only minor ones, while the folks back home have been doing diddly squat. I don't like bragging and anyway...you had to have been there. So I'd catch up on who was shagging who and who wasn't any more etc. and I sat in the background getting bored.

Then, at the weekend, there was a party at my best mate's ex's house. We were sitting around chatting, I knew everyone more or less, when a girl called Mandy suddenly said: "I really want to go to Greece, but I can't find anyone to go with."

"I'll go with you." I said. I had planned to go to Greece on my inter-rail card but missed the train by ten minutes so ended up going to Vienna instead. I knew Mandy, she'd been in my history A Level class, but if you drew a set of Venn diagrams of those of us at 6th Form College, she would only have been in one of the same ones as me, if you know what I mean. In my close circle of friends she was tolerated though not specially close to anyone. I could feel several pairs of eyes turning my way as the eyebrows rose, but what the fuck? she wanted to go to Greece, so did I; I couldn't bear the thought of sitting around for the next three weeks doing nothing, let's go.

Mandy wasn't really my 'type', being a bit too curly headed and rosy-cheeked, rather than the scaled-down Liz Taylor or Sophia Loren which was more my ideal, but she was certainly nice enough to make the thought of spending a couple of weeks in her company, although a little unexpected, certainly not repellent.

The very next day, I met up with Mandy (after breaking the news to my pretty dis-chuffed parents) and we went up to Town to buy some train tickets. Back in the old days, you couldn't ring up or order online, you had to queue up at Victoria and pay in pound notes. Another couple of days and we were off.

I'd never travelled with anyone before - always the solo wanderer me, so I found it a bit strange at first. I felt a bit protective, but Mandy was an independent girl - an only child and parents separated. Although I had three brothers, I had no sisters, so didn’t really know what to expect, but I got used to things fairly quickly. It's a long train journey from London to Brindisi and includes a couple of nights; we'd not shelled out for couchettes so slept in seats. Occasionally, Mandy's head would rest on my shoulder and, although I didn't fancy her, it made a pleasant change. We got on fine together, any misgivings I may have had proved to be unfounded, and sometimes I'd chuckle quietly to myself as I remembered the faces of our friends...

Brindisi. This was early September and southern Italy was HOT, which was fine. I liked it hot in those days. We found the boat to Greece and bought the cheapest tickets: deck class. On board, we settled down on a bench and got chatting to a group of Swedish lads, I'm sure they weren't all called Sven, but odds are, at least one of them was. We did the old traveller thing of sharing what we had, bread, sausage, huge ripe peaches, bottles of warm red wine, cigarettes etc. I can still feel the fur of the peach on my lips as I bit into the ripe flesh and the juice spilled down my chin and neck, then the over-heated red wine, straight from the bottle, passed around the circle - rough, warm, warming. As the sun went down we were treated to a magnificent sunset and then the breathtaking stars of the Mediterranean night sky. I'd always thought that shooting stars were either a kind of myth or else a rarity, a bit like a comet or a total eclipse. Out on the dark sea, lying on a sleeping mat watching shooting star after shooting star streak across the sky as we fell asleep...

We stuck with the Swedes after we landed as we were all headed for Athens. No-one had any idea where to stay in Athens, but then again, we weren't much bothered either. Just as well we didn't worry, as it wasn't a problem; at Athens station we were met by a Kiwi who convinced us to stay at the Hotel Byron - he was given free board and lodging to do so, but he was refreshingly honest about it’s lack of luxury, while convincing us by it’s low price. It wasn’t long before we were trailing along behind him like a bunch of over-grown school kids following a teacher on a school trip.

We all chose to sleep on the roof. It was the cheapest option and the previous night’s experience on the deck of the boat had been so lovely we didn't really want to be confined to a room. Up we went, laying down our sleeping mats, un-rolling our sleeping bags, standing our rucksacks nearby - silent sentinels. Then a quick shower and back downstairs to the bar/lounge to sample the first of many cold, Greek beers. Big pint-sized bottles - rare in those days - and so cheap. Mandy and I had been travelling together now for about three days and must have looked like an old married couple. We were sitting back to back with our feet up on a low bench, chatting to Swedes and others staying at the Byron.

"Do you love her?" Sven asked me, gesturing towards Mandy with his beer bottle.

"Eh? Oh, no. We're just friends. She wanted to go to Greece, so did I, so we went together."

"She's a very nice girl," said Sven. I guessed he fancied her and kind of wished him luck. A couple of more beers and it was time to go to bed. Up the four flights of stairs onto the roof, with the lights of Athens all around, and the myriad stars above. I climbed into my sleeping bag and shrugged off my clothes as Mandy did the same in her bag, next to me. I turned to face her, "Well, here we are!" I said, she smiled, reached out an arm, put it around my neck and pulled me towards her for the first snog of my life.

I'm pleased to report that although totally unexpected, I wasn't shocked by this development and, in fact, I very rapidly threw myself into the proceedings with the appropriate gusto. Soon, I had transferred to her sleeping bag and was on top of her, kissing for England, and then...I can still feel it today, in my mind's groin, so to speak. She reached down and firmly but gently, and yet urgently and fervently took hold of little Che and guided him towards that place, that secret, sacred place.

Could there be anything more surprising for the 19 year old virgin than to discover that a girl - any girl - is willing and anxious to have sex with him, in fact just as keen as he is to have sex with her? And if you have had to endure those long, hard years of girl-lessness, what better place to finally discover their joys than under the stars on a warm summer night in the eternal city of Athens?

Well worth waiting for. I lay back and Mandy rested her head on my young man's chest and I placed a protective arm around her.
(Fri 24th Apr 2009, 14:31, More)

» Cheap Tat

This is kind of an anti-answer...
Back in 1988 we got our first house [only possible with my parents' help as it was a 2-bed terrace in Hounslow and cost a fortune: £77,000 - but that's a bit of a tangent]. With a house - especially one in an advanced state of disrepair - comes work. When skint, this work is necessarily self-inflicted; when married, it is to the man that the noisy/heavy work devolves.

Now, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a married woman in possession of a small house is in need of cushions...and shelving. Shelving to put cushions on and cushions to put on shelving; when the shelving is full of cushions, it is not time to get rid of cushions, it is time to put up more shelving. I needed a drill, and by lucky happenstance, my brother had a drill he was willing to give me. It was a bottom-of-the-range Black & Decker, features included: one speed, uni-directional, smooth/hammer action, short flex, turquoise coloured. It was small and light enough to hold easily in one hand but had grooves on it enabling easy two-handed action. But hey, it worked...in fact it worked hard and long and often.

For a while I trained and then worked as a cabinet maker. The drill got even more regular use, I learned to use it carefully, got the best from it.

We did the place up, sold it just as prices were falling and moved north. Bought another do-er up-er, got the drill out, more plugs, screws, planks, shelving. Did furniture design at uni, then got a job at one point as an odd-job man at a pub (have drill, will travel), we moved house again etc. etc. The poor old drill got more and more scratched up, I'd forget to change bits and forced the drill to make holes with blunt ones. Then after a while, there was no difference between the hammer action and the smooth - it was worn down to nothing. The motor would spark like crazy and smoke a bit when pushed. The plug got loose, bits would spin in the chuck and need re-tightening after a while - I'd lose bits in walls as they unscrewed themselves deep in cavities.

1998 - another house, more work. My tool box (well, three boxes really) resembled the back of a workman's van: bits of plumbing, electrical bits, gubbings from a washing machine, wire wool, clout nails, washers, wood stain, araldite, a candle stub, rawl plugs, 13 amp plugs, 2" sink plugs, allen keys, radiator keys, chuck keys, tenon saw, dovetail saw, mitre saw, keyhole saw, jigsaw, three hammers, two planes, four chisels, two bradawls, six screwdrivers, plane blades, old drill bits, jigsaw blades and about 850 different types of screw from 1/8 inch brass slot-head No.2s to 120mm No.12 cross-head super-screws. The old drill quietly celebrated its 10th birthday un-loved and neglected.

Finally - 2004, we're wandering around the DIY store when I see a new powerful drill. It has a variable speed, slow-start, dual action, reversable motor. It has a handle attachment so it's a bit like an AK-47, it's silver, it has it's own case and a very long lead. It comes with 20 drill bits - 10 for wood, 10 for masonary - did I mention it was silver? It's on special offer, reduced from £59.99 to just £29.99...it's nearly my birthday. My dear wife says: "Why don't you get it? That old drill of yours won't last much longer anyway." So I do, and I take the old drill to the dump - carefully place it down in the metal/electrical trailer, give it one last pat and walk away.

And do you know what? I don't like the new one much; it's too heavy, it's too big to get into awkward places, the flex gets tangled, it's hard work and difficult to get it to go back into it's smart carry-case. I miss that old drill - cheap tat though it was.
(Mon 7th Jan 2008, 15:41, More)
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